Sept. 26, 2017
MALIBU, Calif. - From over 2,800 miles away, sophomore Jessica Livianu sent a message to the other 31 competitors that St. John's tennis is ready to make noise this season as the reigning-BIG EAST Women's Tennis Player of the Year became the first player from the conference to reach the quarterfinals of the Oracle ITA Masters Tournament in Malibu, Calif.
"The Oracle ITA Masters was such an outstanding event for me alongside my colleagues," quoted Livianu. "I was able to play tennis at two of the most beautiful locations in America. The staff, coaches, and locals were all so helpful and warm, making the experience unforgettable."
This national collegiate championship event was held at Pepperdine University and the Malibu Racquet Club and featured the returning Player of the Year from each Division I athletic conference with one additional wild card spot. The tournament consisted of a double elimination 32-player men's singles draw and a double elimination 32-player women's singles draw, along with a single elimination 32-team mixed doubles draw.
Livianu entered as the No. 12 seed and was matched up against the No. 20 seed Madara Straume of UNC Wilmington in the first round. After winning the first set 6-0, Livianu withstood Straume's comeback bid by holding off the Seahawk to claim the second set, 6-4.
Waiting in the second round was the No. 4 overall seed from Duke, Kaitlyn McCarthy. The Blue Devil disposed of her first-round opponent, 6-1 and 6-0, to quickly advance to the second round on Friday. In the first set, Livianu dominated the match by jumping out to a 5-0 lead to claim a 6-1 win. The second set proved to be a back-and-forth battle between the two competitors before Livianu pulled away to win 7-5 and complete the upset to advance into the quarterfinals on Friday evening.
The win marked the first time a representative of either gender from the BIG EAST Conference has advanced to the quarterfinals of the Oracle ITA Masters.
"I am truly grateful and appreciative for getting to represent the BIG EAST Conference at this amazing event," said Livianu.
No. 13 seed Lily Miyazaki also had upsets on her mind as the Sooner defeated the No. 5 seed from Pepperdine in three sets to meet Livianu in the quarterfinals. The first set was a battle as both sides exchanged games until Miyazaki was able to piece together back-to-back games to win 6-4. Miyazaki took control in the second set by cruising to a 6-1 win to take the match and advance to the semifinals.
While the end result wasn't exactly what Livianu had in mind, the sophomore still enjoyed the experience and the memories made along the way.
"I love that I got to play mixed doubles with my teammate, Luka Sucevic, and to get to cheer for each other during our singles matches," Livianu stated.
Following the events, Livianu was able to attend a players' party and met a personal-favorite athlete of hers, former World No. 1 on eight-different occasions Lindsay Davenport.
"One of the most memorable moments was having the opportunity to ask Lindsay Davenport for some advice and a picture," Livianu exclaimed. "I was beyond excited and motivated by her words of wisdom."
Livianu will return her focus to St. John's as the sophomore will gear up for the ITA Regional Championships in October.